A title I was considering for this particular Trending blog was “Hearing God’s Voice.” But that sounded a bit too mystical to me and probably others reading this. Although I don’t think too many actually think of God’s voice as audible- but you never know!
So what does it mean to hear from God? (I’ve gleaned some insights on this subject from Dr. Bill Thrasher in his book, “Living the Life God Has Planned.”) We hear from God, or more specifically, receive revelation from God mainly through His Word. This is by far the clearest, most accurate way that God speaks to His people. The Scriptures tell us that if God is anything, He is consistent in His character. He cannot be or do things that are not in His divine nature, despite the fact that He is all-knowing and all-powerful. That said, God is a God who communicates with His people— and that occurs primarily through His Word.
The three secondary— and I mean VERY secondary ways that God communicates with us are, 1) through the prompting of the Holy Spirit; 2) through other people; 3) through life’s circumstances. The reason I emphasized the importance of Scripture over the other three is that each of these gets their marching orders from Scripture.
For example, if anything comes to you, that you perceive may be from the Holy Spirit, but seems off (meaning does not line up with the God of the Bible), it probably is— and is not of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, not every strong urge is a prompting from the Holy Spirit. We can be tempted not only to desire but even to crave wrong things (1 Corinthians 10:6). Our responsibility is to get to know the Shepherd, then we will be able to discern His voice (John 10:4).
The same holds true with God’s people. Many well-intended (and even not so well-intended) people will give us advice or counsel that may sound good, but never let it override your own seeking of God through what His Word says and by prayer.
Finally, with the circumstances of life; be wary of making decisions strictly on opened and closed doors, without Scriptural basis. I have seen both opened and closed doors be used of God for direction and in helping make decisions for myself and for others. However, that should not be the sole basis. In some cases, even when there seems to be an open/shut door before us, we are called to wait on the Lord. In fact, if we are not willing to wait, our hearts are probably not in a position of faith. In some cases, God allows long delays before He does things. Such was the case of the birth of Issac to Abraham and Sarah (Gen 17:15-21), or the birth of John the Baptist to Zacharias and Elizabeth (Luke 1:5-25).
Since we can trust Scripture, we must use it as the lens by which all other revelation is received and acted upon. God has clearly laid out principles for us to follow in His Word- to do His will. As we follow the general principles, more light will be shed on the particulars. For example, here are some clear statements that can be applied to a variety of decisions in guiding us through life:
It is God’s will for us to live in moral purity and be set apart for Him (1 Thess 4:3).
It is God’s will that we rejoice always, pray without ceasing and be thankful in everything (1 Thess 5:16-18).
It is God’s will that we submit to the authorities in our lives (Rom 13:1).
There can be so many other clear commands added to this list. They are easy to find, especially if make you a normal practice of Scripture intake. As you do, it’s just amazing how God makes His will known. Now, that’s what I call ‘hearing from God’!
-Pastor Joe Garofalo
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